For a once-proud franchise, Pat Shurmur checked all the boxes when:
He was an adult at a time when ownership wanted and needed one following Ben McAdoo.
He had previous head coaching experience.
He was regarded as an elite play-caller who brought out the best in journeyman Case Keenum.
He was philosophically aligned with GM Dave Gettleman on fixing the offensive line.
He was all-in on Eli Manning as his quarterback.
He is on notice, along with the rest of the New York Football Giants coaches and too many of the players.
Gettleman’s plan is in disarray, but he isn’t on notice if only because firing GMs after two years is anathema to ownership … and because Daniel Jones has a chance to silence critics who preferred Sam Darnold over Saquon Barkley.
But it was Gettleman who told us that you can win while you build, and he and Shurmur are 7-19 in this nightmare rebuild.
The offensive line was upgraded, but it is clear now that it hasn’t yet been fixed, and until it is, banged-up, beaten down Saquon Barkley is being devalued and diminished and finding too many potholes on his Road to Canton.
If John Mara is resisting his occasional urges to fire everybody, the apoplectic fan base certainly is not.
Patience may be a virtue, just not for Giants fans who haven’t celebrated a playoff win since Super Bowl XLVI. Who have witnessed 3-13, 5-11 and 2-8 lately … that’s 10-32, if you’re scoring at home. Who are wearing bags over their heads around their offices today after losing the Blooper Bowl to the Jets.
Who are wracked with embarrassment, anger and shame at the dastardly state of their franchise.
Who will need a chill pill with the news that there will be no scapegoat right now.
“No, I’m not gonna make any coaching changes,” Shurmur said. “Some situations maybe they help, some they don’t, I don’t know.”
Firing defensive coordinator James Bettcher may be tantamount to throwing red meat to the fan base, but it would be counterproductive now and ignore the fact there are no fewer than nine players on that side of the ball in their first or second seasons. And there weren’t any trade deadline buyers for Janoris Jenkins?
“There’s pains that come with growing,” Shurmur said.
For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:
“We gotta raise ’em right, and we gotta coach ’em hard,” Shurmur said.
And sometimes they are excruciating.
Shurmur and Bettcher will have six games after the bye week to show ownership, as well as Giants fans, that they are raising them right and coaching them hard.
Because, at the moment, their pups are mostly running around like chickens with their heads cut off or are disgracing the uniform Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson and Michael Strahan once wore.
On notice: OLB Lorenzo Carter has not made any impact, B.J. Hill has regressed, DeAndre Baker is every quarterback’s designated pigeon, Sam Beal finally was healthy enough to make a cameo against the Jets.
I believe that Mara, who must feel trapped in a time warp transported back to the 15 Years of “Lousy Football We’ve Had Enough!” banner-flying days of The Fumble, will ultimately excuse Shurmur going for it on fourth-and-15 and fourth-and-1 at his 39 and punting on fourth-and-2 down 14 late, for failing to use Barkley consistently in the passing game, and spare him as long as he does not lose the locker room and does not lose to the Dolphins at home or Redskins on the road.
If nothing else, Mara has to be pleased with Shurmur’s nurturing of Jones, and that in and of itself could save him as long as the franchise-quarterback arrow continues to be pointing up, and the precocious kid’s ball security issues get fixed.
Only twice — Ray Handley and McAdoo — has Giants ownership pulled the plug on a head coach after two seasons … although then-GM George Young nearly fired Bill Parcells following his maiden 3-12-1 season to replace him with Howard Schnellenberger.
But Shurmur should assume nothing.
“The head coach job is a CEO job,” Gettleman said when he was hired. “You need intelligence. You need leadership. You have to hire a guy with vision.”
Shurmur should be intelligent enough to know that his leadership and vision are blurry to the naked eye right now.
Parcells decided No More Mr. Nice Guy in his second season and began ruling with an iron fist. He was wired differently, of course, than Shurmur. But more fire from the head coach would be a good idea. More zero tolerance. Don’t just talk about threatening jobs, take them away from repeat offenders. Agree to relinquish the offensive play-calling sooner rather than too late. If it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it. You are what your record says you are. Fix it.
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